Innovation Development Processes in the Technology Market
If you think that having an “innovation process” is counter-intuitive, you are not alone. Innovation is widely thought of as something spontaneous and unpredictable, a product of a creative stroke-of-genius. This is because we often equate the concept of an “idea” with the concept of “innovation”. While it is true that innovation starts with an idea — they are not the same thing. An idea can be literally anything. Ideas represent raw and often unrefined and unfiltered thought and they are a dime-a-dozen. While ideas can be, and often are spontaneous, it takes a great amount of effort, planning, and discipline to recognize the idea that can be shaped into an innovation and then integrated successfully into the company’s business. The relationship between idea and innovation can be expressed as:
Innovation = Idea + Execution
Pursuing innovation is inherently risky and a disproportionate number of ideas inevitably fail before they are fully implemented or executed. Based on this notion, we can amend our formula:
Innovation = Idea + Successful Execution
The “Innovation Process” is the set of rules guiding the journey of an idea from inception to its logical conclusion. That conclusion could be creation of a new product or a decision to not pursue it. Establishing a repeatable process for turning ideas into innovation is essential for creating a corporate innovation engine capable of consistently producing product breakthroughs.
Ascentis’ innovation process reflects our agile values and principles. It is an iterative process consisting of seven stages separated by five tollgates. Completion of each stage brings the idea to the next level of maturity and each tollgate is designed to ask specific questions to determine if the idea should continue to the next stage or if we should fail-fast and terminate it early.
Once the MVP development is complete, we go into “testing/sales enablement” stage where we start market-testing the product and create necessary marketing support.
“Gate 4” establishes product readiness:
Is the product ready for the market?
Is the company ready to sell and support the product?
If all has gone well until now, then we have reached the “Launch” phase and we are ready to release the product into the market. This is where we begin to implement production clients and start hearing real-world feedback.
“Gate 5” establishes quality of the product:
Do we have critical bugs?
Do we have unmet needs?
The final stage of the process is the “Post Implementation Review” where we analyze market feedback and compile lessons learned.
The process could be followed formally or informally but it needs to maintain the spirit. Each toll-gate provides an opportunity to assess if we are on the right track and if the idea is still worth pursuing. “Fail fast” if needed, is key to ensure that resources are optimally leveraged. It provides the freedom to be bold and experiment and accelerates the time-to-market for ideas that pass through the process.